NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York City correction officer is facing arson charges after being accused of setting a brownstone fire that injured a dozen people in Brooklyn.
A lover’s vendetta may have sparked the raging fire in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Thursday, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
Police said 43-year-old Yvette Randolph set flames to part of her ex-boyfriend’s former apartment building on Chauncey Street, trapping and injuring 12 people, including children.
Randolph, an 11-year veteran with the Department of Correction, was to appear in court Friday afternoon.
“I want her to be tortured like we were tortured,” said Woodrow Spencer, who lives in the building. “I want her to burn in hell, that’s what I want.”
Surveillance video from a deli next to the building shows a woman wearing a law enforcement uniform going into the building with several bags. Less than three minutes later, she’s seen walking away. Shortly after that, plumes of smoke can be seen from the building.
“I thought we was going to die there,” said Shanell Dukes. “It was so much smoke.”
“I had to go through the back window,” victim Derrick Owen said. “I had to get my little cousin through cause she got asthma, so I had to get her through the back window.”
Witness Gabo Robinson said he saw a woman in uniform leaving the building as the chaos after the fire broke out around 9:15 a.m.
“How could you come out of a house like that and you’re just walking around calm?” Robinson said. “I thought she was a security guard to be honest, that’s what really caught my eye because it looked like she was dressed for work coming out of an apartment building that was on fire.”
Victims told Jiang they think Randolph should also be charged with attempted murder. They said she poured an accelerant in front of every doorway, hoping nobody would get out alive.
“If the Fire Department hadn’t gotten here in two minutes, everybody would have been dead,” Sujeny Lamberty said.
Firefighters had to use saws to cut through bars on some windows to make their rescues.
The victims sustained non-life threatening injuries. The injured include three children, ages 4, 12, and 13, who were still hospitalized Friday evening.
The Red Cross was helping those who were displaced find new homes.
Randolph has worked at the Bellevue Hospital prison ward since June 6, 2002, and has no disciplinary history, according to the Department of Correction.
Dora B. Schriro, the correction commissioner, released a statement saying, “Every man and woman serving in the NYC Department of Correction is saddened for all who were injured in the blaze and lost their homes. We wish for their speedy and complete recovery.”
Randolph was suspended indefinitely.
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